At 2080 square miles, Chichagof Island is the fifth largest island in the United States. Reachable only by float plane or boat, most of the island is a vast, untamed wilderness.
Chichagof Island is framed by Admiralty Island to the east, Peril Strait in the south, the Alexander Archipelago to the west, and Glacier Bay National Park to the north. In 2016 a cruise ship dock was built in Hoonah, which brought travelers up from British Columbia. As many as 10,000 cruise guests visit Hoonah to fish, kayak, and explore.
For most travelers, the highlight of an Alaska cruise is a chance to see brown bears in the wild, and Chichagof has plenty. The island boasts the highest population of bears per square mile of any place in the world.
1) Icy Strait Point Fishing Adventure
Fishermen come from around the world searching for Alaska’s well-known halibut and salmon. Cruise passengers docking at Icy Strait Point are in a prime position for fishing from Hoonah. If you are lucky enough to be heading to Hoonah by cruise ship, be sure to book your fishing excursion ahead of time to get the best local tour guides.
Chichagof Island Alaska is home to some of the finest fishing waters in Southeast Alaska, and from Hoonah, it’s a quick trip out to the best fishing grounds. If you are hoping to catch the big one, then you’ll be glad to know that the biggest halibut on record was caught inside Icy Strait.
2) Icy Strait Point Kayak Adventure
Some of the best adventures can be found while paddling a kayak. The calm waters of Port Frederick are a perfect place to get out on the water. Port Frederick Bay joins Icy Strait just outside of Hoonah.
Be on the lookout as you quietly navigate through the bay. Out on the water, you might see seals, sea lions, whales, and eagles flying overhead. Watch the shoreline for Sitka black-tail deer and even a brown bear.
The nearest town to Port Frederick is the small community of Elfin Cove. Stop by to walk the boardwalks, shop in the general store, drop your postcards at the tiny post office and enjoy a great local meal.
3) Alaska Marine Highway
Take a ride on Alaska’s ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway. This is not a luxury cruise. It’s an adventure on a public transportation system that is used by locals and visitors.
The ferry system runs four mainline ships that travel long distances, including overnight stays. Tickets can be purchased for just the transportation without a cabin to sleep in, and for an added charge, you can reserve a basic private cabin.
Day trips from Hoonah are also possible on one of the five ships in the system. For instance, travel from Chichagof Island at Hoonah to Juneau will take three and a half hours and tickets start at only $49.00 per person.
4) Elfin Cove
Explore a Chichagof Island town that is untouched by motorized vehicles. There are only two ways to get to Elfin Cove, by boat or by plane.
Fishing is popular here, with anglers hoping to pull in a record size halibut or king salmon. Book your fishing charter in advance so you can go out with a knowledgeable local guide who knows the secret spots to catch fish.
Take a whale-watching tour into Cross Sound, where Humpback whales like to hang out and feast on a buffet of fresh krill.
5) Tenakee Springs Chichagof Island
The town of Tenakee springs boasts a population of 100 people during the quiet winter months. Businesses here include a quaint general store, a library, a seaplane base, and a museum. However, it’s the rustic bathhouse in the center of town that is the main attraction.
The bathhouse is a simple structure with a stone and cement tub in the center that’s six feet by nine feet and five feet deep. Into the tub flows a steady stream of mineral water from the hot springs below. The water maintains a constant temperature of 106F, with the overflow splashing over the side of the tub into a drain in the floor.
There’s a separate changing room. Men and women soak in the tub at different times, and the times are posted on the door. Strict adherence to the schedule is expected and taken seriously.
6) Wilderness Tour
Most people visit Alaska to see the wildlife. The opportunity to see bears, deer, humpback whales, seals, and orcas in the wild is a huge draw for the over 50 cruise ships that sail to Alaska each year. The best way to get out and see Alaska’s native wildlife is with a wilderness tour. The good news is that Chichagof Island Alaska is one of the best places to tour the Alaskan wilderness.
If seeing brown bears in the wild is at the top of your wish list, then you’ll be glad to know that Hoonah is home to the most bears per square mile than anywhere else. For the best wilderness experience, book a tour with a local guide who has extensive experience with the area and knows where to find the bears.
Whale sightings are common from May through September when the population begins to arrive in Hoonah. Sightseeing boats will take off from Hoonah Harbor, searching for humpbacks, orcas, sea otters, sea lions, porpoises, and seals in the water. You can often spot bears, deer, coastal ducks and geese, blue herons, puffins, terns, and cormorants along the shoreline.
7) Shore Excursions Guaranteed To Return To The Ship On Time
When you visit Chichagof Island on a cruise ship, you need to know your Hoonah Travel Adventures will get you back to the ship on time. Cruise guests have a designated amount of time to see what Chichagof Island has to offer, and you can’t leave your sightseeing time up to chance.
The local team with Hoonah Travel Adventures offers Icy Strait Point excursions with a guarantee that cruise passengers will be back at the ship on time. You can go whale watching, kayaking, fishing, or exploring the Alaska wilderness in an area with the highest population of bears and never worry about getting back to the ship on time.